Pakistan turns to China for naval base
Source: Financial Times
Pakistan has asked China to build a naval base at its south-western port of Gwadar and expects the Chinese navy to maintain a regular presence there, a plan likely to alarm both India and the US.
“We have asked our Chinese brothers to please build a naval base at Gwadar,” Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar, Pakistan’s defence minister, told the Financial Times, confirming that the request was conveyed to China during a visit last week by Yusuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s prime minister.
Hitherto, China has shied away from moves that might alienate the US and Beijing’s neighbours, such as India, Malaysia and Indonesia. “China’s rise is a beneficial force for peace and we have no hegemonic ambitions,” said a Chinese official familiar with Beijing’s security policy.
But Christopher Yung, senior research fellow at National Defense University in Washington, said in a recent paper “the nature and degree of China’s access to out-of-area bases will be the ultimate indication and warning” of its eventual intention to become a global military power. A Pentagon official said: “We have questions and concerns about this development and [China’s] intentions. But that is why we believe it is important to have a healthy, stable and continuous military-to-military relationship.”
A senior Pakistani official familiar with Sino-Pakistani discussions on naval co-operation said: “The naval base is something we hope will allow Chinese vessels to regularly visit in [the] future and also use the place for repair and maintenance of their fleet in the [Indian Ocean region].”
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